December 11, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

A New Man

Hip Surgery Fuels Jesse Martin's Resurgent Play

by Joshua Berhow/CHN Writer

Imagine what becoming 40 years younger can do to an athletic career. That’s basically what happened to Denver forward Jesse Martin this season.

Well, sort of.

Martin, a junior, ended his sophomore season a year ago with hip surgery, something he says makes him feel like a whole new person on the ice.

“I was telling guys I felt like an old man for my freshman and sophomore years because my hip was so bad at times,” Martin said. “It’s like night and day now.”

Martin went through a long rehab session over the summer, as his surgery almost immediately followed the end of the Pioneers’ season. And even though he scored 10 goals and netted 23 points last season, he was far from healthy on the ice.

He had three steroid shots during the season, yet was still limited to some things he used to be able to do on the ice as well.

“By the end of the year it was really painful, to the point where it was hard to walk after games,” he said. “It was fine within a couple of days but I would go through that every weekend.”

The worst part might have been the rehab after surgery. While other teammates were working out and skating Martin spent most of his time rehabbing in a pool and doing other exercises.

“He went through roughly the entire offseason without being able to do a whole lot of conditioning or strength training,” said Denver coach George Gwozdecky. “His teammates were working out and Jesse was rehabbing. That’s the hardest thing he has had to adjust to.”

But after a successful surgery Martin has been able to continue to play at a high level, and says he feels only about 10 percent of the pain he used to. His new-found health allows him to play the style of hockey he wants to without having to worry about any setbacks.

“To just go out and finally be able to play and not worry about hurting myself or worry about being able to play the next day,” Martin said, “that’s a lot of stress mentally and it just allows me to go out and play way more freely.”

Through 16 games Martin has seven goals and five assists and is tied for third on the team in scoring. His plus-7 rating leads first-place Denver.

As for Gwozdecky, he’s just happy to see his forward playing like he was when he recruited him three years ago from the United States Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm. That season he had 56 points and 39 penalty minutes in 59 games.

And that year — like this year — he didn’t have a bad hip, either.

“His production has continued to improve,” Gwozdecky said. “We’re starting to see some of the things he was doing in his final year of Junior Hockey in the USHL.”

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